Doing It Right
Urban fiction is hot. As the fastest growing genre in the book industry the dollar signs are screaming and everybody is looking for the next big thing. The majors have come calling, but they keep picking up this recycled hood-lit-trash that independents like Triple Crown are pushing.
It’s like choosing bad dope instead of going for the real, like OG’s straight out of the penitentiary like Joe Black, Robert Booker, and Eyone Williams, and the latest man to emerge from America’s gulags—JM Benjamin.
JM Benjamin is that dude; the cat to see. His name is ringing bells right now and the heavies in the street lit market—names like Nikki Turner, Wahida Clark, Shannon Holmes, and Teri Woods are paying their respects and recognizing. Because you know real and just like in the dope game when an author comes out right the shine is automatic, and JM Benjamin’s books are like that. His writing is tight, concise and criminal. The kid walked out of the feds in July 2006 and his book, Down in the Dirty which dropped three months before his release won the award for Best Street Fiction of 2006 at the African American Literary Awards. Talk about keeping it real. JM Benjamin is doing it and doing it right.
“Nancy Flowers of Flowers in Bloom Publishing published my joint Down in the Dirty,” JM says. “I couldn’t have asked for a better publisher. It’s going on its third print run. I have another one due out under Flowers in Bloom, but my next piece My Manz and ‘Em is being published by Real Edutainment Publishing, which I am the founder and co-owner of with a friend and comrade Kevin R. White and my brother James A. Spann.” And just like that JM has laid a foundation for future success, but being a soldier through and through, he did 12 ½ years (6 ½ in the state, 6 in the feds) of his thirty-two years of existence in prison.
“You will never hear JM Benjamin sold his soul, crossed or jerked anyone out of their paper or stunted and fronted like I’m bigger or better than the next person.” He says. “I’m not into airing out dirty laundry or none of that funny business so I won’t share my experiences but I will say at the end of the day my character and reputation will prevail.” And by keeping it real and tight to his chest JM alludes to those who put shit in the game. Just like the drug game you got jokers in the book industry who are on some clown time but JM doesn’t play that he does it right and stands tall as a man of honor with his reputation being all that matters. As he plunges into this book game he holds the same principles and keeps on point.
“Same game to me,” he says. “The only difference now is that I changed the product I’m pushin’. I still try to interact and deal with good peoples but still have to be on point and watch out for the snakes, shysters, etc. In a short period of time I’ve learned a few valuable lessons and had to take one or two on the chin.” But it’s all good in JM’s world, 2007 is his year.
“My future plans have already begun,” he says. “I got my publishing company, Real Edutainment, up and running. In addition to that I’m trying to open a bookstore in my hometown. Aside from that I am a motivational speaker for schools and halfway houses.” With JM’s successes he has become a model for the motivational non-fiction book about success after incarceration, Changing Your Game Plan by Randy Kearse. JM is laying it down and reaching a broader audience on a broader scale.
“I literally beat the odds.” He says. “I’m like a poster child for change right now. This is the first time in my life that I have ever had a legal and legitimate job, profession or career despite having limited education and minimum job skills. I started writing about 5 ½ years ago. I was in the feds and was an avid reader of street lit. After reading so many of them I just felt that I had a story or two to tell, stories that could be educational and entertaining. I’m proving that it’s doable and never too late (to succeed).”
Anyone who wants to check out JM Benjamin’s work can go to www.realedutainmentpublishing.com where you can order his new book My Manz and ‘Em. JM leaves us with this. “I call myself the young Donald Goines reincarnated because when he breathed his last breath I took my first (1974).” And with his fast paced criminal writing style on the perils of the drug game he might just be.
Seth Ferranti is a contributing writer for The Urban Book Source and accomplished journalist having written articles for Don Diva, Slam, King, Feds and many more. View more of his articles at: www.gorillaconvict.com
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